The Octavia vRS iV (the iV is the badge Skoda uses for its electrified models) offers much of what the VW Golf GTE already does. But while the GTE likes to shout about its eco character, the vRS iV looks like any other petrol or diesel vRS. On first inspection it's essentially a vRS that just happens to have plug-in hybrid power.
Just like the GTE (and the Cupra Leon E-HYBRID), the iV gets a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to a 113bhp electric motor and a 13kWh battery. The power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and in the Skoda total power is a pretty pokey 242bhp.
Of course, if you're opting for the iV over the standard petrol or diesel vRS then you'll want to know the electric numbers. The car's pure-electric range is up to 39 miles and an on-board 3.6kW charger means a full top-up takes around three and a half hours with a 7kW home wallbox charger. Unusually Skoda throws in both a three-pin charging cable and a Type 2.
At a quick glance, the iV looks just like its petrol and diesel siblings with 19-inch alloys, black exterior trim and deep bumpers. Stare harder though and you'll notice the charger flap on the kerbside front wing and the higher ride height.
In fact, the iV sits 15mm taller than the other vRS models which doesn't sound like much but it gives the iV a strange, standing on its tippy-toes look – it almost looks like a sport trim rather than a car wearing Skoda's raciest badge. Worse still, unlike the petrol and diesel vRSs, the iV doesn't have any chassis changes over a standard Octavia, which in our minds is a real shame as it essentially means for the plug-in hybrid vRS it gets the look but not the full vRS package.
Those disappointments never really go away either. The vRS iV is certainly a quick car with 0-62mph, taking just 7.3 seconds and the engine and electric motor work very well together, delivering very brisk acceleration from a standing start. In fact, while the iV is around half a second slower to 62mph than the petrol vRS, the electric motor's torque means the iV is 2.2 seconds quicker from 50 to 70mph which gives it some great punch when overtaking.
In pure performance terms, the iV is a good example of the fun that can be had when power and electricity combine in a sporty car, but a good performance car needs to have more qualities than this – especially one wearing the vRS badge.
Attack a series of corners and the iV feels a bit soft with plenty of body roll, which would be okay if the ride were comfy but it isn't. The vRS iV bangs and crashes into potholes – and the blame can be laid at the door of the plug-in hybrid's electric motor and battery weighing an extra 200kg. Choosing the £945 Dynamic Chassis Control is a must as it improves things by softening (or firming up) the suspension at the flick of a switch, but only by a bit.
There's a compromise when it comes to carrying stuff, too. Regardless of whether you go for the iV hatchback or estate, the battery pack eats into the load area – and we're not talking slightly either. The estate gives up 150 litres to the other vRS models which is a shame, but the higher boot floor does give some handy underfloor storage for the charging cables and a smaller load lip when loading items.
The interior is one of the nicest features of the vRS. The dashboard has a cool, modern design, there are a pair of great looking and surprisingly comfortable sports seats and there's plenty of technology. A large infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android auto comes as standard, as does a 10.25-inch virtual cockpit for the dials.
Just like the Golf GTE and Cupra Leon E-HYBRID, it's running costs where the vRS iV can really make sense. Skoda claims up to 235mpg and 39 miles of pure electric range; in the real world, with regular charge ups, 70mpg is more realistic as is between 25 and 30 miles of electric. That said, while the iV may not reach Skoda's claims, it can still save you plenty of cash. Speaking of saving money, the iV attracts a BiK rating of 11% compared to 37% in the petrol vRS and CO2 emissions are a paltry 26g/km, which could equate to a massive saving if you're a company car driver.
And this is why the vRS iV sits in an odd niche. It's a great allrounder but with it lacking the sporting drive of the petrol and diesel vRS models, we can't help but feel you're getting all the looks but not all the go. A standard Octavia iV makes a bit more sense to us.